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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Residue Management Effects on Infiltration into Semi-Arid Drylands

Author
item Baumhardt, Roland

Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: July 9, 2001
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Residue-retaining stubblemulch tillage was developed on the southern Great Plains as a wind erosion control practice during the 'Dust Bowl'. An additional benefit of both stubblemulch and no-tillage residue management practices in the semiarid Great Plains is increased storage of precipitation as soil water. The increased soil water conservation, however, is often accompanied by greater storm runoff. Research results quantifying storm runoff and independently measured infiltration of simulated rain are summarized in this paper. Generally, residue interception of raindrop impact increases infiltration; however, in semiarid regions, dryland crops produce limited residue amounts and, consequently, typical benefits of increased infiltration when using residue management practices are not achieved. The purpose of this paper is to review and contrast studies characterizing residue effects on annual storm runoff and rain infiltration measured at Bushland and Lubbock, TX. Benefits, of residue management to conserve water in the semiarid southern Great Plains, could not be attributed runoff reduction and increased infiltration into soil with limited residue cover, but rather to reduced soil disturbance and evaporation.

Technical Abstract: Sustainable dryland production systems rely on effective methods of storing soil water for later use by crops. Residue-retaining conservation tillage systems, first developed on the southern Great Plains for wind erosion control, also have the added benefit of increasing the amount of precipitation stored as soil water. Residue in these conservation tillage systems intercepts raindrop impact, which reduces soil crust formation and surface compaction. Consequently, infiltration is greater and precipitation storage in the soil increases; however, in semiarid regions, dryland crops produce limited residue amounts that can render these residue management practices ineffective. This paper reviews and contrasts studies characterizing residue effects on rain infiltration and annual storm runoff measured at Bushland and Lubbock, Texas.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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